Pagan Studies


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Studies Blogs

Advanced and/or academic Pagan subjects such as history, ethics, sociology, etc.

Posted by on in Studies Blogs
Art, Social Justice, and Some Ranty-ness

It has been far too long since I published a blog here, and although my original intent was to post mostly about Paganism and Art History, I felt I’d better write about SOMETHING else I lose my train of thought all together or be forgotten. (Sniff). What kept me away from my blog, and a great many other things that bring me happiness are general bureaucratic pains occurring in my job. As I’ve mentioned here, I am a professor of art history at a state university, and this semester – although I have been through this here several times – I have really felt that the arts are under attack, and have been hard at work defending both our arts program, and the need for arts in society in general.  I won’t get into the bitter details of this ongoing fight, except to say I thank those who have been by my side in this fight, and the hope that in the end, we will of course win.

 

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We Have Work To Do: A Reflection on the Parliament

I am finally reaching a point where I can begin to unpack my feelings concerning this year's Parliament of the World's Religions. On many levels this was a life changing experience, and one that I won't soon forget. I have read several other posts concerning the event as folks return home and back to daily life--taking the time to unpack their own feelings and put them in words. The majority of what has been written is positive, which I won't deny is a good space to hold for all the amazing occurrences and connections that were made. But allow me to be a dissenting voice for a moment...because despite all the positive aspects of this event, there is work yet to be done.

I'd like to start by quoting one of my favorite professors: "Stop focusing on what all religions have in common, and start doing the work of learning to live with the differences. Some religions are concerned with reaching the top of the mountain, others don't even care that there is a mountain." --Jacob Kinnard

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  • Earl Nissen
    Earl Nissen says #
    Thank you for the reflection. I like "asking for the understanding and the respect to be unique and legitimate." I also enjoyed t
How to Build a Pop Culture Magic System part 4

In part onetwo, and three of this series I covered how spaces, characters, and symbols could be used to create a pop culture magic system. In this part of the series, we'll explore the role of pop culture tools and how they can enhance your pop culture magic workings. One of the benefits of pop culture is that you have a plethora of tools you can draw upon. These tools don't need to be conventional magical tools either, but can be specific to the pop culture you are working with, and you'll usually find that you can draw some type of correspondence between a traditional tool and a pop culture tool, though you may also find it more interesting to come up with your own specific purposes for using a tool as it relates to the pop culture you are working with.

With your given pop culture, you can usually find pop culture tools in toy stores, comic book stores, as well as conventions. And if you can't find it in those places, you can usually either find someone making and selling pop culture tools for your fandom, or you can get crafty and make your own tools. For example if you work with Dr. Who, you can easily order a sonic screw driver or create your own variant and have that stand in as a wand. In the case of Batman, you might have multiple gadgets you utilize for various purposes. Part of this comes down to your creativity and your ability to recognize if there is an actual magical purpose for the tool. For example, I might use the batarang as an athame or sword. Alternately if I don't want to rely on a traditional correspondence, I still need to determine what purpose the Batarang would serve as a magical tool in my pop culture magic system. If the tool has no purpose, it becomes a distraction to the actual work.

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Posted by on in Studies Blogs
Get Charming

I'm teaching a course this semester called 'Witches, Healers & Saints' mostly so I could teach a lot about witches. One of the themes developing in all my courses is how the few people with power often abuse it (honestly, it's always been there -- I'm just making it more overt now), but a major theme in this class is magic as technology.

My aim is to get away from the modern impulse to see magic only as 'superstition'; our belief in our superiority to the past causes us to dismiss too many things. If you think of magic as the best knowledge available at the time about some very mysterious things, it's easier to understand the role it played. I'm introducing the students to sympathetic magic and the power of charms (like the Anglo-Saxon Charm for Bees or the Charm against a Wen).

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  • Byron Ballard
    Byron Ballard says #
    I'd like to take that class.
  • Kate Laity
    Kate Laity says #
    That would be fun!

Posted by on in Studies Blogs
Processing Suicide Through a Pagan Paradigm

**Trigger Warning** I am going to discuss some very personal perspectives on processing grief and feelings around suicide. These are my own feelings, and should not be taken as any generalized statement on these issues. If this topic is particularly painful, please remain cognizant of your own emotional status and stop reading as you must.

Before I can even begin to process the amazing emotions and revelations of the last week as a participant of the Parliament of the World's Religions, I have to take a moment to grieve the loss of a friend.

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  • Holli Emore
    Holli Emore says #
    Sending you love and peace, Denora. I struggled with thoughts of suicide for many years and actually felt envy when someone I knew
How to Build a Pop Culture System of Magic Part 3

In part one and two of this series I covered how spaces and characters could be used to create a pop culture magic system. In this part of the series, we'll explore the role of symbols in the creation of a pop culture magic system. What I find fascinating is how symbols are interwoven into characters, in such a way that sometimes characters are simultaneously personalities and symbols that represent something else. For example, in comics, the color schemes of a character's outfit make the character a symbol, as well as the ore overt display of a specific. The character is an extension of the overt character, automatically associated with the meanings attached to a symbol. Red, Blue, and Yellow call Superman to mind, along with the S in the geometrical figure. Black, Gray, Yellow, and a Bat symbol call to mind Batman, as much as the bat symbol itself. The symbol embodies a connection to the character, much like a goetic sigil embodies a connection to a Goetic Daimon. But the symbol is also evocative of what the character stands for and the values and skills the character embodies (again not different from the Goetic demon).

This melding of symbol with character doesn't just occur with comics. It also occurs with Fantasy and SF books and other forms of media. For example, the lightning bolt scar is a symbol associated with Harry Potter, and the Chaostar is as much associated with the character of Elric as it is with chaos magic. The melding of symbols with characters is a way to make those characters impressionable to the people who are into. The symbols evoke the characters.

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Posted by on in Studies Blogs

I just read the greatest commentary by Nimue Brown, on her Druid Life blog.  Since I don't know whether it will also show up here on Pagan Square, I wanted to share it with as many people as possible.  

Of course, these are things I've been preaching myself for many years; but she expresses them in a wonderfully clear and pertinent way.  Thank you, Nimue!  Let those who have eyes to see, see this!   

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